Lunching on lentils.

I have previously said that I have an on-again, off-again relationship with lentils. Right now, I’m on with lentils. In fact we have a lunch date almost every day, and he has even been popping by for dinner in my pumpkin soup and teamed with roast pumpkin, ricotta and pastry. It’s a very happy, delicious and fulfilling relationship.

The lentil is the nice guy. Let’s call him Lenny. Lenny is friends with all the females. He sure knows how to treat a lady. You know he’d be the perfect boyfriend, but you’ve friend zoned him. As has every other female. Totally underrated.

That’s the lentil.

The 2014 Australian Grains & Legumes Consumption & Attitudinal study found that only 35% of Australians reported legumes (lentils, chickpeas, beans) on their dinner plates at least 2-3 times per week. 64% of respondents don’t even think about legumes. Prior to this, the 2011-12 National Nutrition and Physical Activity Survey showed that only 4.5% of the ~12,000 participants were regularly eating legumes.

So why should we choose Lenny?

They are nutritional powerhouses. They treat your bowels well. Don’t cause erratic blood glucose levels. Reduce your risk of certain cancers and heart disease. They also help with problems associated with menopause.

Plus they are a:

∼ Source of good quality protein

∼ Rich in carbohydrates, with a low glycemic index rating for blood glucose control.

∼ A good source of B-group vitamins (especially folate), iron, zinc, calcium and magnesium.

  High in both insoluble and soluble fibre, plus they have resistant starch too. (Hello happy bowels)

And unlike other legumes, lentils do not need to be soaked prior to cooking. Win.

There are a few types:

– They are sold split (dried) or pre-cooking in a can – Tip: when choosing the canned varieties, draining & rinsing your legumes reduced the sodium content greatly.

– Yellow & red lentils – best used in soups and curries.

– Green lentils – they have a flattened seed and a more sturdier choice for burger patties and slow-cooked meals.

– Dark green lentils (aka. French or Puy) – these have a nutty flavour and don’t lose their shape on boiling so a good choice for your salads.

On the downside, they contain relatively low quantities of the essential amino acid methionine. But lucky for us non-paleo folk, methionine is found in higher amounts in grains. On the contrary, it’s the opposite for Lysine – another essential amino acid. So in order to get a good balance of amino acids for growth and repair, many vegetarians should combine legumes with grains. So, dhal with Rice. Tofu with Rice. Peanut butter with bread.

Or what I have been doing since I went to George Calombaris’ Jimmy Grants restaurant and had this salad.

George Calombaris’ Jimmy Grant/Hellenic Republic Grain Salad

It was the absolute bomb and I had to make it at home. So I’ve been having:

Lentils with freekeh.

Lentils with brown rice.

Lentils with pearl barley.

I think Freekeh is my favourite for this salad.

Other fabulous delicious ways to boost your legume intake:

– Roast pumpkin, lentil and ricotta pie – this has won over some carnivores!

– Add them to a salad of roast pumpkin, baked ricotta, cherry tomatoes & spinach.

– Add them to pumpkin soup.

–  Add them to your spaghetti bolognese.

– Casseroles

– Curries

– Lentil burgers

For more lentil-loving and legume-packed recipes, check out the Grains & Legumes Nutrition Council website.

Have you been lunching on lentils?

Emma xo

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